BROSSARD – The Canadiens were back in town after a week-long trip to the Golden State. A few fresh faces were spotted on the rink at morning practice, notably Jaroslav Spacek and Chris Campoli
. The players were getting their legs ready for Tuesday’s game at the Bell Centre where they’ll be facing off against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coming home: Injuries and Max Pacioretty’s three-game suspension might have been the reason why the Canadiens organization called Louis Leblanc up from Hamilton, but the young forward was laced up and all-smiles at Monday practice.
“I’m happy to still be here,” said Leblanc. “The hardest thing to do is to stay here. I’ve got to continue to prove myself and better myself every day.
“I was really impressed with the speed of the guys,” admitted Leblanc, who’s averaged 11:09 of ice-time in his three first games. “The world’s best players play in the NHL, it’s hard not to be impressed.”
He might be impressed with the calibre of play compared to the AHL, but in the Habs’ locker room, one teammate had only positives to say about the young Montreal player.
“He’s looked good. He’s pretty solid all around the ice and hasn’t made too many mistakes. For a guy to look that comfortable out there is good. He also made a nice play on Kostitsyn’s goal,” pointed out captain Brian Gionta.
“He’s calm out there, at this level; it’s a much different speed and pace. He’s looked right at home.”
A light at the end of the tunnel: Not having had the best of luck in his new uniform, falling to a lower-body injury in his first game with the Canadiens, Chris Campoli was back on the ice with his teammates Monday morning. Also at practice were Andreas Engqvist and Jaroslav Spacek.
“It’s another step in my progress. I'm hoping it’ll continue that way,” shared Campoli, who still wouldn’t put a date on his eventual return. “The doctors gave the green light for me to play with contact. I had the same color jersey as everyone else today, which was good. I feel great, but the only way I’ll ever know is when I’ll play. There are some plays during games you can’t replicate in practice.”
Making a surprise visit to the locker room was Ryan White, who skated on his own Monday morning.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of the physio guy over here and he’s been doing a good job working with me,” said White. “I’m trying to get healthy and get my body back as good as it can be. I just have to continue to work hard.”
Time served: After a three-game suspension served over the entirety of the Canadiens' Californian road trip, Max Pacioretty is happy to be back in the lineup.
“It’s good to come back to some momentum,” started the Canadiens' highest scorer. “The guys have played pretty good in the last couple games. Hopefully I can step in and help them.
“The guys were joking around that I was on vacation in California but I think I was working a lot harder than they were,” laughed Pacioretty who’s looking to up his 19 points in 24 games now that he's back. “Coaches had me up pretty early working out. My legs feel great right now, I feel refreshed and ready to go.”
Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com
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